Tuesday, November 01, 2005

It still pays to "follow the money"

J. Neil Schulman has taken me to task for posting and further promoting the late Murray Rothbard’s Rockefeller-Bush conspiracy scenario last week. In fact, he not only posted a comment on this blog, he added a few more words on the LibertarianLeft e-list:

“The power of the President of the United States is held by the President of the United States. That power may vary in strength. Some presidents have more support than others, from lobbies, from constituencies, from media, from other politicians, from funding sources. But by the time you make it to the Oval Office, you have your own power base, and the idea that some banker can treat you like a puppet and make you dance is an absurd notion that libertarians need to stop embarrassing themselves with.”

And so, in very few words, Schulman embraces the “official history” he was fed in grade school and dismisses as “embarrassing” not just Rothbard’s 40-plus years of scholarly research and writing (including his seminal America’s Great Depression and A History of Money and Banking in the United States) but the work of such great opponents of court historiography as Charles A. Beard, Gabriel Kolko, G. William Domhoff, C. Wright Mills, and (Neil’s former mentor) Samuel Edward Konkin III.

The extract from Murray that I shared last week was not hard fact, just a probable (though exaggerated) scenario Rothbard based on his own research. That Neil so thoroughly rejects the “absurd notion” behind such a scenario may say more about him than about those of us who “need to stop embarrassing [ourselves].” As Justin Raimondo wrote a few years ago, in an afterword to Rothbard’s Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy:

“There is a certain mentality that, no matter how convincing the evidence, would never even consider the argument put forward in Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy. This attitude stems from a particular kind of cowardice. It is a fear, first of all, of not being listened to, a dread of consigning oneself to the role of Cassandra, the ancient Greek prophetess who was granted the power of foresight by the gods, with but a single limitation: that none would ever heed her warnings. It is far easier, and so much more lucrative, to play the role of court historian.”

No matter what Schulman believes, there is still value in “following the money” when studying not just historical patterns but even the events reported in today’s Los Angeles Times.

“There is something behind the throne greater than the king himself.” — William Pitt (1770)

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